Kokoda Youth Program Graduation

IMG_6020 cropCongratulations to Celine Wienand, who graduated from the Kokoda Youth Foundation Program (KYFP) last Friday night 19 August 2016. Celine has been a passionate ‘2015 Kokoda Kid’, completing all facets of the program including the Challenge 96km walk, the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in September 2015 and all community service activities.

The KYFP is a local program for participants aged between 15 turning 16 by the commencement of the program to turning 18 during the year of the program. The KYFP passionately believes that there is no difference between those who are expected to fail and those who are expected to achieve in society – except for opportunity and the right support.

KYFP is a 14 month commitment that includes a mix of physical training and mentoring in preparation for trekking in Papua New Guinea, where they can visit the Northern Beaches or walk the Kokoda Track which were both significant battle sites in the Japanese invasion in 1942, experiencing a physical, mental and cultural journey of a lifetime, followed by a period of community service and forming community support networks.

This extended time frame allows for opportunities to learn, make choices, fail and flourish. Strict attendance and disciplinary standards, physical conditioning and social service leads to discovery and fulfilment. The experience melds perfectly with the CAS program.

“For the past 14 months, I’ve had the joy of being part of the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program: about eight months of weekly hikes and training sessions, and hiking the Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge – where walking 35 hours with 15 of some of the best people I’ve met quickly turned them into some of the people I wished would just stop singing and let me sleep. Completing the program with monthly community service allowed us to give back to those who sent us to Papua New Guinea, and spending time with my team both during and afterwards was an added bonus. 

The Program has been one of the best spur-of-the-moment decisions that I’ve made, considering it has changed me into a person that believes I can do anything if I put my mind to it. The pillars that the Program (pictured below) stands on – Courage, Endurance, Mateship, and Sacrifice – are principles that I stand by, and believe in with all my heart. 

Walking the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea was nearly eerie, as everything that I’d learnt about, researched, and discussed was finally put in front of me. We walked past the trenches that the diggers and the Japanese had built, saw where they fought and died, and the memorial we held at Brigade Hill and Isurava caused a lot of tears. There aren’t enough words to describe everything that I experienced on the Kokoda Track, and what I experienced with my friends. 4am wake up calls, wonderful drop toilets, hills that seemed to go on forever both up and down, my love for everyone with whom I shared this experience – these are all memories that I’ll treasure forever.

I cannot recommend this program enough to those in Years 11 and 12. In the end, fitness level doesn’t matter; it’s how much you want to get to that finish line that counts.” – Celine Wienand

isurava group photo at the pillars crop

The Kokoda Challenge Youth Program features:

  • Teams from Tweed Heads, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Toowoomba.
  • 20 weeks of Sunday bushwalks and mid-week training sessions
  • inspirational stories from the Kokoda Campaign
  • personal and team challenges in the 30km Brisbane Kokoda Challenge and The Kokoda Challenge 96km event on the Gold Coast
  • discovering personal limits and learning that the human spirit is capable of extraordinary things in the face of difficulty and potential failure
  • responsibility and reliability, effective communications skills and dedication
  • earning the right to participate in a trip to the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea and experience a meaningful cultural, physical and emotional journey
  • community service, social responsibility and an obligation to give back to the community that gave them the chance to participate in KCYP in the first place

The 2017 Kokoda Youth Program nominations opens in late October. For further details on the application process see the weblink : http://kokodachallenge.com/apply-for-the-program

Ms Alita Blackmur
HOD Student Services (Acting)